When it’s time to ditch the phone, the Netflix queue, and civilization in general, then it’s time to head west to the Davis Mountains. One of Texas’ three sky islands, this majestic range rises from the desert floor, creating a postcard-worthy panorama in every direction.
Davis Mountains State Park
Sitting a mere 5 miles from the streets of Fort Davis, this state park will make you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. With 2,700 acres of parkland and 15 miles of trails, it offers the perfect introduction to the Chihuahuan Desert in all its cactus and rattlesnake glory. Wander up to the Keesey Canyon Overlook on the Skyline Drive Trail and enjoy an amazing view looking down on the historic town and its namesake fort.
SH 118 N., Park Road 3
Within the state park, you’ll find a stunning white adobe structure sitting in stark contrast to the mountainside. This is the Indian Lodge, built in the 1930s through the sweat and grit of the Civilian Conservation Corps. This hotel is a perfect retreat for those who like the great outdoors but don’t want to sleep in it. It’s also home to Black Bear Restaurant, which whips up excellent camp-inspired and Southwestern grub.
16453 Park Road 3
Davis Mountains Preserve
For those who really want to fall off the grid, look no further than this 102,675-acre preserve that’s as wild as West Texas can be. Carefully stewarded by The Nature Conservancy, the preserve opens to the public multiple times a year for exploration. The most epic adventure is a trek to the top of Mount Livermore (aka Baldy Peak). At 8,379 feet in elevation, it’s the tallest point in the Davis Mountains and the fifth-highest peak in Texas.
Upcoming open preserve days: Nov. 9; Dec. 6-8
Scenic Loop Drive
This 75-mile loop shows off the majesty of the Davis Mountains from the comfort of an air-conditioned automobile. But driving doesn’t necessarily make it any less exciting. You can’t look down for a second: Yes, because the road is super curvy, but also because you might miss the sight of a mule deer, javelina, or a herd of non-native wild Auodad sheep roaming the cliffside.
SH 118 and SH 166
The McDonald Observatory is one of the finest cosmic observatories in the world. Best of all, it’s open for tours. During the day, visitors can speak with knowledgable tour guides and get up close to some of the most advanced telescopes on Earth. But nighttime is when the real show starts. Attend a Star Party and you’ll be blown away staring up into the galaxies of the great beyond as astronomy experts take you on an interstellar journey.
3640 Dark Sky Drive
Whether you follow my footsteps or forge your own path, I hope to see you on the road.
Chet Garner is the host of The Daytripper travel show on PBS.
To view the Bandera episode visit thedaytripper.com. Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.